Mexican senate: Tax on high-calorie food could bite into obesity problem

Senators also approved a tax of one peso on every liter of soft drinks.

Story highlights

  • Legislation adds an 8% tax on food high in caloric content
  • A liter of soft drink also gets a tax
  • Mexico tops a U.N. report ranking the most obese nations
  • Mexico passed the U.S. to top the list

With their country having the dubious distinction of first place in a global ranking of obese populations, legislators in Mexico have approved new taxes on high-calorie foods and soft drinks.

A measure that cleared the Mexican senate on Thursday and that now awaits the president's signature puts an 8% tax on edibles with high caloric contents. Although the legislation does not identify all foods that fit into its tax category or include a specific list, it cites "food that is high in calories such as fried foods ... sweets, foods made mainly with cereal, among others..."

Senators also approved a tax of one peso (about seven-and-a-half cents) on every liter of soft drinks.

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The tax measures come after Mexico jumped ahead of the United States to claim first place in a list of most-obese nations in a U.N. food and agriculture report this year.

Meanwhile, in another component of a government effort to combat obesity, the Mexico Health Department is joinging with two pediatric organizations in a campaign to prevent childhood obesity. The campaign's goal is to help doctors understand the complications of obesity, as well as the preventative and treatment measures available, said Arturo Perea-Martinez of Mexico's National Pediatric Institute

According to the World Health Organization, the average Mexican drinks 163 liters (about 43 gallons) of soda a year, which is 40% more than the average U.S. citizen, making Mexico the largest consumer of soft drinks in the world.